Friday, 5 February 2016

Not much to do. So how did I spend all day down the allotment?

 I went down to the allotment thinking that there was little to do.  However, I went home about five in the afternoon when it was getting dark.  Where had all that time gone?

I have been given quite a bit of processed wood to charcoal.  It is mostly from old pallets.  So I have all the equipment for starting a burn and I am even using matches.  (I am used to using a flint and iron).  The last time I made charcoal the wood was not broken up unless it was too big to go into the bins.  The charcoal was all right but could have been better.  I have seen people using smaller pieces of wood about six inches in length and about four inches across.  This made very good charcoal.  So I decided to break up all the wood with a bull hammer.  I got a lot of it broken up into small pieces but I still have a substantial pile to.  I have to admit that I got fed up with doing it after a while and decided to put all the wood pieces into a box and cover it with black plastic.

My justification was that this would dry the wood out and make it more suitable for charcoaling.

The next job was to move the tarpaulin over.  I have dug the green manure into the sweet pea bed because they will have to be planted out soon.  They are much bigger than usual for this time of the year.  They will be kept in the cold greenhouse for as long as possible but that will not be for very much longer.  As the soil had been exposed by digging in the green manure, it needed to be covered so that rain would not wash any nutrients away.  Hence the tarpaulin.  It does not cover the whole bed but it is still worthwhile using it.

I was going to put the posts up for the sweet pea canes but the tarpaulin was in the way now so I bought the posts and put them onto the tarpaulin to keep it from flapping about.

Once the tarpaulin had been moved, I could rake the pile of compost that I had left on the side of this bed, over the soil.  The compost is really good so I am going to leave it on the surface and allow the worms to take it into the soil.

There are some leeks left growing in this bed but they will soon be harvested and I will be able to rake over the whole of the surface.  I want to get the soil as smooth as I can before putting in the canes.  (I didn't get around to washing the canes).

I tied two canes horizontally to the cherry tree supports using gardener's wire.  I still haven't headed this tree down to three substantial buds yet but I have looked carefully just above the graft and there are some really good buds that I can use.  With luck the buds will all develop stems which I can train along the bamboo canes and one that will grow vertically and throw out more horizontals that can be tied in.

I planted several clematis along the side of the small store shed and one of them still had its original cane.   I took this off and threaded the plant through the concrete reinforcing wire stapled onto the shed.  I thought that at least one of the clematis had died but they are all showing green buds.

Yesterday, I turned all the compost bins.  One of the bins was empty so I decided to experiment with the woody shreddings left in the far car park.  A long way to go for them.  However, just as I had finished turning the last full bin a bloke with shreddings on his truck came and I asked him to dump the chippings right next to the composting area.  It meant that I could easily fill one of the dalek bins with chippings without exhausting myself.

The shreddings were a little dry so I decided to water them with a little comfrey liquid.  I expect them to rot down and make some excellent compost.  Some of the charcoaling wood was so rotten that I could crumble it with my hands so this went on the woody chippings composts to encourage decomposition by fungi.  

I have moved a blackberry and put it with the loganberries but did not tie it in.  So I spent several minutes tying it to the concrete reinforcing wire near the greenhouse.  Now that the black berries and loganberries have been tied in they look much tidier.

Last week I bought a solar powered pump for my little pond.  I set it up with the solar panel inside the greenhouse.  It didn't work.  I was being a little optimistic because there was no sun and thick cloud.  However, I left the pump in the water and today the sun came out and made the pump work which pleased me no end.  Now this pump only cost me about £7 so I was not expecting very much but  it is performing very well and throwing water across the pond.  Unfortunately, it is throwing it a little bit too far and emptying the pond.  So I had to top up the pond today and make sure that the pump was covered with water.  In order to reduce the height of the fountain to a more reasonable height, I covered some of the solar panel.

The two large pots that had bedding flowers in them were cleaned out and tidied.  I will plant them up again this season because they gave a good show last year.  All the bits I took off them I put into the compost bins.

The Pitmaston Pineapples and the King of the Pippins apples were given their horizontal canes so that I could train them to espalier.  I put two canes on each of the supports.  These trees will have to be headed back if they have not produced lateral stems.

My last job was to put some of the woody chippings around the back of the shed.  The chippings that I put there last year have rotted away now and need to be replaced so that the ground does not get wet and muddy.  I am using this storage area almost all the time I'm on the allotment.

 So, not only did that take all day, I still have several jobs that I didn't get around to. 

Jobs still not done.  I need to move the chrysanthemums to their new bed.  I want to start to dig in the phacelia and rye grass green manure on the roots and leaves bed.  I will be sowing parsnips in early March and will need the soil to be raked down and smoothed for sowing.  I want the green manure to be well on its way to decomposing in the soil so digging in now seems to be the favorite time to do this.  I have a lot of green manure growing on the allotment and if I leave it to the last moment I will have to do the digging all together and I don't want to have to do that.  So, if I start now, then by the time seeds need to be sown and plants planted out, I will have finished all the digging with time to spare and allow decomposition to occur. 

I look forward to tomorrow.  Just think outside.  Forget the box.


  1. Nothing to do? You can come over my place and do 'nothing' any day you like. WOW!
    ...About that charcoal-seems like a lot of work to lazy person like me. Is there a short cut I could employ? Like, maybe, buying aquarium charcoal? Thanks-I love reading your blog.

    1. I use barbecue lump charcoal - not the briquette - as well Barbee. But now I have made myself a charcoal maker, I like to make charcoal with that.